Back in the northwest
Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
9Trip End Aug 12, 2009
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A couple of days after the train ride, a group of 6 of us who had just finished our LVC program (some from the NW and some not) took a weeklong trip to Holden Village up in the Cascade Mountains
Since coming home, I have begun to embrace this transition period of my life. The other day I came across a book called Life Journeys According to Mister Rogers, which is a collection of Mister Rogers' thoughts published a couple years after his death. Here is a quotation that resonated with me:
"I saw a friend who's a freelance writer and asked him what he was working on. 'Nothing right now,' he answered. 'You know how it is for freelancers. But at times like this I tell myself I'm "between opportunities." That way I don't have to feel I'm nowhere.' There's often a tendency for us to hurry through transitions. We may feel that these transitions are 'nowhere at all' compared to what's gone before or what we anticipate is next to come
So I'm in the 'between' part, and despite the fact I don't have a full time job, I've been finding plenty to do. One day a week I have an internship with City Arts Magazine, a free monthly publication with editions in Seattle, Tacoma, and the Eastside. I get to do a little writing and editing, and just generally see how magazines are published. While I am looking for another part time job, I'm enjoying babysitting as well. In addition to finally getting unpacked and organized, I've caught up with friends, visited Holly at PLU, played with Holly's new kitten, worked on a friend's farm in Carnation, run around to farmers' markets with my mom, helped at the church yard sale and taught Sunday School, walked around town (takes me off guard every time a driver actually stops for me!), took a hike, and went to the Seattle Central Library to hear Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Anne Kidd Taylor talk about their new book. So life is good!
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With that update all being said, I am still processing the life-changing experience that was living in Chicago for a year and participating in Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I have decided that living in Chicago was kind of like living in France: there is a different lifestyle, a different kind of people, different weather, different food when we went out to eat, and a different language in a way. That is to say, I learned the language of Chicago--the street names and L stops and current events and popular places and important people. And now, just like my French, I am slowly losing my effortless fluency and vocabulary
Anyway, at the end of July, I wrote the following list intending to do a blog entry but never got around to it in the craziness of doing everything for the "last time" in Chicago, packing up, having guests, and moving cross country. So I thought I would still include it because it sums up the summer months of my life in Chicago.
killed more cockroaches than I care to count (fortunately all but one in the kitchen) and have come to appreciate the slower, stay-in-one-spot-on-the-wall nature of spiders like never before (I have seen one spider here all year)
developed a reputation for knowing every free or cheap thing that's going on in the city, where every thrift store is, and which Whole Foods consistently has the best samples
shocked coworkers when I tell them we live on the 4th floor of an apartment building and don't have AC (I've discovered that not having AC is akin to the blasphemy that is putting ketchup on your Chicago hot dog)
experienced more thunder and lightening storms in the past couple months than in my entire life before
chuckled when I find myself reading the weather forecast and thinking, "low 80's, ok not too bad"
watched The Bachelorette with my roommates every monday and cheered for Ed, who is from Chicago; we have yet to spot him on the streets, but that doesn't mean we aren't trying
enjoyed a Matt Nathanson concert outdoors at the Lincoln Park Zoo and put up my umbrella (which I am now kinda attached to) when it started drizzling
tried at least half a dozen ice cream places around town, including our friendly corner vendor Pablo, who Nora speaks to in Spanish for us all
checked a few more states off my list: Ohio for Kate's wedding; Indiana because we drove through it, got stuck in construction traffic (apparently the Midwest is notorious for summer highway construction) and went about 3/4 of a mile in half an hour, and stopped at Dairy Queen; Wisconsin again for our last retreat
hosted friends Ashley and Alana over long weekends in July and my parents to help me move in August
been visited by friends Selene and Kris on their road trip across the country
taken a trip to the ER for the first time in my life after slicing about a 1/4 inch cut into my left thumb on the paper cutter at school, got three stitches, and am slowly regaining movement and strength (the cut was right on the knuckle where the thumb bends). Things I could still do without moving my left thumb: type. Things that were way challenging: washing dishes, cutting fruit/veggies, cooking in general, doing buttons, putting my hair in a ponytail
realized I rarely need a map to get around any more, and have the street grid system so ingrained in my head that I can hear or read an address and know if not exactly where it is, then at least the two "big streets" it's between
spent time at the Taste of Chicago on 5 different occasions over the week the festival was happening in early July, saw Emeril Lagasse, got an autograph from the editor of Everyday Food, tried samples from food of many, many restaurants
planted, staked, and watered three cherry tomato plants, which are now cascading out of their pot
watched two movies in the park: My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, both of which I love, haven't seen in a while, made me laugh out loud, and are set in Chicago (something I didn't realize before but is SO OBVIOUS now :)
tried not to laugh when I went to the tiny REI garage sale (the Chicago store is less than a year old though, so I have to cut them a little slack)
learned how to make popcorn on the stove, whole wheat pizza dough from scratch, and roast s'mores over our gas burners, all from my roommates
taken a Mediterranean cooking class at a place called the Chopping Block and got to sample everything we made
gone to the beach along Lake Michigan and if not for the tiny waves, one might think it's the ocean with the beautiful sand, endless horizon, and (imported) palm trees
explored the Field Museum for the first time all year, the last museum on my list to visit, which apparently I saved the best for last because it's my favorite
seen the 6th Harry Potter movie with a group of 8 and spent forever talking about it afterward
walked through the Green City Market (Chicago's largest farmers market, but doesn't hold a candle to Pike Place) most Saturdays
ridden the Metra train (like an L that goes to the suburbs) to Palatine to babysit 4th grade teacher from school's 6-month-old daughter
gone through Millennium Park whenever I'm downtown: to see the Bean, listen to whatever free concert is playing each summer night at Pritzker Pavilion (designed by Frank Gehry, of EMP fame), sit on the boardwalk bordering the stream at Lurie Garden, watch the kids run around in the giant fountains, walk up the skybridge that connects the park to the new modern wing of the Art Institute (which is free Thursday and Friday nights in the summer!)
chaperoned my school's Summer Camp field trip to the Chicago History Museum
changed up the house dynamics when roommate Kate got married and moved out...now I cook dinner on Wednesdays, some chores are combined, and there is one less person around to hang out with
watched the fireworks show at Navy Pier (it's free every Wed and Sat!)
come across a different festival every week, since there are about half a dozen to choose from on any given weekend
decided that on our LVC budget, the best brunch (including cinnamon rolls) can be found at Ann Sather's, the best dessert (pie) at Hoosier Mama's Pie Co, the best dinner (falafel and hummus) at Sultan's
started going to book club through church and simultaneously realized I've aquired dozens of books here even though I only arrived with three..
walked by Wrigley Field on a game day so many times that I wish it were "walk by 10 times, get one game free", but unfortunately the ticket prices are exorbitant. OH and they base the price on which team they're playing, as in, the better the team, the higher the price. ridiculous!
provided my Costco card privileges to whoever wants to go, and sometimes just for the food court
have had lengthy discussions over such topics as "should pizza be cut in wedges or squares?", "is it pop or soda?", "what states are in the midwest? the west?", "who's friendlier, people in the midwest or west?", etc. based our opinions depending on where we're from
never ceased to be in awe of the grandeur that is the Chicago skyline, as seen from my bus 82 window looking east each morning as the sun rises behind the buildings, silhouetting them as we pass over the Eisenhower expressway (see I've learned to no longer say "freeway")
admired the immense variety of clouds we get, and how fast they move, when thunderstorms pass through
enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of working this summer at school without the children--but some days it's too quiet and I finish my to-do list too fast
been spoiled by Katie's guitar-playing skills, Nora's french-braiding skills and Abby's herb-growing skills
witnessed Obama's helicopter (well ok, there were three so I don't actually know which one he was in) fly just past our apartment window while I was eating my oatmeal one morning
decided that if I could transplant the entire L system, the Chicago Tribune and its sibling the Redeye (the free mini version), and Millennium Park to Seattle, that would be just dandy
been challenged to live simply (on a budget, consuming less, thinking about what to spend my money on), sustainably (environmentally friendly, taking public transportation, eating less meat, reusing practically everything we can), spiritually (lots of conversations, going to church), social justice-y (even more conversations and of course, my job), and in community (with roommates who I am truly going to miss)
I think returning home to the Northwest has been a little like coming up from an underground L station...a little disorienting at first, but eventually I am finding my way!